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dc.contributor.authorDrout, Michael D. C.eng
dc.date.issued2006-10eng
dc.descriptionThe most complex, beautiful, and longstanding tradition in the world is the great and continuous four-billion-year-old web of life, what Richard Dawkins calls "the river out of Eden" (1995). Thirty years ago he showed that the existence and interplay of replicators, entities that are able to copy themselves, are sufficient to explain, in broad terms, the workings of evolutionary biology. Dawkins, whose focus was the biological gene, also noted that there is another replicator on earth besides the gene--the "meme" (1976:203-15). A meme is the simplest unit of cultural replication; it is whatever is transmitted when one person imitates, consciously or unconsciously, another (208).1 In this essay I will show how an understanding of the interactions of memes can do for culture what the identification of "selfish genes" (Dawkins 1976), "extended phenotypes" (Dawkins 1982), and "cooperative genes" (Ridley 2001) did for biology. Meme theory can explain the workings of several well-known and much discussed aspects of oral traditions: traditional referentiality, anaphora, and the use of repeated metrical patterns. All three phenomena, different as they are, can be understood as arising from the operations of the same underlying processes of repetition and pattern-recognition explained by meme-theory.2eng
dc.descriptionNoteeng
dc.format.extent26 pageseng
dc.identifier.citationOral Tradition, 21/2 (2006): 269-294.eng
dc.identifier.urihttps://hdl.handle.net/10355/65083
dc.languageEnglisheng
dc.rightsOpenAccess.eng
dc.rights.licenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License.eng
dc.titleA meme-based approach to oral traditional theoryeng
dc.typeArticleeng


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